Doux Commerce in the City of God: Trade and the Mormon Ideal of Zion

37 Pages Posted: 9 Nov 2014

Date Written: November 7, 2014


This essay is a reflection on the relationship between religion and commerce in the Mormon tradition. Drawing on the social criticism of the prominent Mormon scholar Hugh Nibley, it asks if commercial activity is consistent with the good life in a just society, what Mormons call Zion. Nibley gave a largely negative answer to this question, and this essay argues that he was mistaken, attempting reconciliation between religious notions of a righteous society and the largely secular doux commerce tradition of the eighteenth century. While the relationship between religious ideas of Zion and Enlightenment defenses of the market is uneasy, I argue that each tradition has much to teach the other.

Keywords: Mormonism, religion, commerce, markets, Zion, social justice, doux commerce, Hugh Nibley, Adam Smith, Montesquieu, Joseph Smith, Brigham Young

Suggested Citation

Oman, Nathan B., Doux Commerce in the City of God: Trade and the Mormon Ideal of Zion (November 7, 2014). William & Mary Law School Research Paper No. 09-289, Available at SSRN: or

Nathan B. Oman (Contact Author)

William & Mary Law School ( email )

South Henry Street
P.O. Box 8795
Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795
United States


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